Tag Archive | series

By Virtue Fall, Carrie Elks

By Virtue Fall, Carrie Elks

By Virtue Fall: the perfect and heartwarming romance for Autumn 2018 (The Shakespeare Sisters Book 4) by [Elks, Carrie]

Genre: General Fiction (Adult)

I love Carrie Elks stories, have read almost all of them now, and she writes in a way that’s perfect for me.
In fact looking through the ones I’ve read I’ve just decided of a reread of Love in London 2, Broken Chords. Fix you is another favourite that’s been reread a few times…so I was eager to get into this.

I loved (five star loved) the first two in this series, somehow missed book three, and expected this to be another five star read. And yet…it wasn’t. Its got Carrie’s perfect pacing and story line, some great characters and some you love to hate. All things that make a book perfect for me and yet somehow it just didn’t pull me in, keep me gripped.

I’m not sure why, I loved Juliet (London!) and Ryan, the kids were perfect and brought some wonderful levity, the school mothers, oh haven’t we all met those types? There’s one scene with Ryan and Juliet and The Mothers that I just loved!
The way they both are attracted right from the start yet hold off, Juliet because she’s still dealing with divorce issues, the betrayal from her husbands affair, and doesn’t feel ready, and Ryan because he knows he’s only here a few months, that he’ll be off again soon, and he too isn’t looking for love. Yet it has a way of sneaking up on us slowly, catching us out.
Love never waits for the perfect time – life just isn’t that neat, rarely do Life events and Perfect Time meet up!

Its really well written, finishes off the series neatly, (Cesca, she’s still my favourite and I had a little lump in my throat picturing her in That Dress). For many readers I’m sure it will be exactly what they want, but for me it just didn’t have that magic of the first two, of almost all Carrie’s other stories I’ve loved. That happens, you can’t please all of the people all of the time and all that..

Stars: Three, a well written story that fits the series but didn’t quite hook me in as Carrie’s stories usually do.

ARC supplied by Netgalley and Publishers

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Fight or Flight, Samantha Young

Fight or Flight,  Samantha Young

Fight or Flight by [Young, Samantha]

Genre: Romance.

Well, I’ve read lots of Samantha’s stories now, On Dublin Street is still my favourite, she does the Scot guys so well. Usually. This one, Caleb, well, he’s a shallow jerk. I was infuriated at his arrogance, his lack of manners, his overall high handed, judgmental self. I almost stopped reading, he was so obnoxious.
Luckily Ava kept me going….I loved Ava, she seemed like a typical “blonde” stereotype, pretty, always well dressed, full make-up, perfect hair, and yet she’s so much more. Awful parents, betrayed by her two childhood best friends, yet she’s got herself a good job, her own home, and a few good friends. Harper, her best friend, is wonderful and I hope we see more of her in a later book. There seems to be an opening later in the book with someone….

So, I ploughed on and slowly began to understand Caleb, but though he has a past that made me understand why she initially judged Ava, he’s human, we all fail and make mistake, he seems to continue to judge her in little ways even when he knows her better.
I did warm to him but I can’t say he’s my favorite person in Sam’s writing. I enjoyed the story but again its not one to really tug at the heart, I felt sad about what had happened to Ava, was sad for Harp when things went wrong for her but it didn’t have the huge drama I’ve come to expect from Sam. Having said that when things did go wrong it was really well done, drawn out over a period of time, lots of angst and wondering, lots of will they make it through ( yes, I know they will but I still need to feel as if the possibility is there that they won’t). so many books wrap the break-up and getting back in just 2 or 3 pages and for me that just doesn’t cut it. I want my characters to really feel devastated, to really hit the bottom and here both Ava and Caleb do. Ava is so brave when she faces her fears and tells Caleb how she feels, and then gets That reaction, but by now I understood Caleb more and it made me angry but not as furious as it would when I started the book. Even Ava understands why he has that reaction, but she’s grown so much in confidence, she’s heartbroken but knows that its not her fault, compared to how guilty she felt over Nick and Gem.
Some reviews mention the Scots accent. I hate written dialects for just this reason, done badly they can ruin a novel. I’ve seen too many Doona, dinna, nay lassie, och the noo etc….and so often they use language that would have been common a couple of centuries back but now, no way. I’m from Norfolk (UK) and we know that when a TV series features folk from here they all speak in some kind of generic Summerzet accent.
If I’m reading a novel and I don’t notice the accent, except that it reinforces a characters background, then I know the author has it right. Sam’s a Scot, she does that accent well in her writing IMO, it adds to and not detracts from the story.

I’m finding it hard here to put a rating, it started badly for me, but the drama of the ending really was perfect.
I still think the actual story holding things together was a bit flimsy, I felt it wasn’t really strong enough to hold the whole novel. Maybe if we[‘d seen it a bit more in a past time-frame, from Ava’s POV it would have more impact, but I felt for her but with the “ horrible folk, awful thing to do but move on now Ava”, rather than being so upset I understood why it coloured her life so much. Sometimes it is tiny things from the past that impact on us, but we need to see just how awful an effect those words or actions were to understand properly.
Stars: Well, hmmnnn…tough one. I think its going to have to be a three, not my favourite of Sam’s books.

ARC supplied by Netgalley and Publishers

Hunting Danger, Redemption Harbor Series, Katie Reus

Hunting Danger, Redemption Harbor Series,  Katie Reus

Hunting Danger (Redemption Harbor Series Book 5) by [Reus, Katie]

Genre: Romance

I’d only read book three in this series, each are advertised as stand alone and that one I loved, didn’t feel I’d missed anything by not reading first two books.
I haven’t read book four but when I saw this I expected to feel the same as I did with book three, that it would be complete on its own. It is….and yet I think I’d have got far more from it if I understood more about the whole group of characters, their dynamics and interaction. As it was, apart from Brooks and Darcy they were just names and I didn’t feel the connection between the characters that I know would be there.

Its billed as romance, and it is but for me the romance fell second place to the suspense. Its a tightly written novel, well paced, well set out, but the romance side takes a while to warm up – its very much each likes the other but hides it, and seems as though that’s been going on a long time. Now they’re thrown together, in danger, and emotions run hot at a time like this. Its a question of what happens once that cools down, when they’re thinking with clear heads once more.

Its an interesting story but I felt a bit disconnected from it, as I said I think even though its a stand alone it would work better if I’d read all of the others.

I do occasionally get tired of the “quick computer hack” that takes care of everything, tells where folk are, what they’re doing, spies on them remotely – even when there hasn’t been time to set up cameras…and of course knocks out those cameras who see what we don’t want them to.

Its not just in this book, but a growing trend in many suspense reads. PCs can do lots, are a huge asset but they are machines, not miracle cures and I felt here that it was something a little over-used.

Stars: Three, a good read but would have been a great one if perhaps I’d read all the earlier books.

ARC supplied by Netgalley and Publishers

 

River of Shame, (A Winston Radhauser Mystery 3), Susan Clayton-Goldner 

River of Shame, (A Winston Radhauser Mystery 3), Susan Clayton-Goldner 

River of Shame: A Winston Radhauser Mystery: #4 by [Clayton-Goldner, Susan]

Genre:, suspense, General fiction (adult)

My third book from Susan, and its as fabulous as the other two. I missed the first Radhauser mystery, but feel as if I know him now. He’s the kind of policeman all should aspire to be, won’t give up, seeks the truth, not the convenient answer and is such a genuine caring man.

When we meet him at the start of this book I understood why his wife was angry, and yet like her I understood that he’s the kind of man he Had to go in to work, couldn’t just leave justice when he knew he was needed to help pursue it. Yet his wife has just given birth to their son, and is also undergoing chemotherapy. Such a hard decision, and he’s trying to do both, do what’s right for Grace and their family and also try to stop more crime and hatred being spread.
I love Radhauser, he’s a great man. He’s been through such a lot with the death of his first wife and son in a tragic accident, and been given another chance at happiness, which is is so pleased about, but Grace knows he wouldn’t be the man she loves if he just ignored something when he could help.
Of course what seems a simple case expands to include others, to include murder and to show up an evil thread of bigotry running through the locality.

Its at times a harrowing read, not because its overly graphic but because its so real. Sadly I could imagine this happening, not just in US but here in UK too. We too have our share of bigots and hatred 😦 I had to put it aside a couple of times because the characters feel so real that I was really upset when certain things happened. That’s a testament to good writing, not a book I put aside because I’d lost interest, I just needed to take time to read something lighter, give my mind a break.

Its a gripping, suspensful story, and so easy to believe in the reality of it. I so felt for the characters, was so angry at the bigots, felt for the kids, brought up by such narrow minded folk, they’re almost bound to follow their thinking and actions. It takes a brave child to break away from such strong minded parents.
Radhauser is his usual thorough self, and I love the way Susan explains his thinking, why he takes certain actions, that allowed me to come to my own conclusions. The ending though – that came as a shock, really didn’t expect that and yet looking back I can see how the threads were seeded out, but so carefully that I missed them.

Stars: five, a scarily real novel, written with very genuine feeling characters. Its a story I could very well see played out in real life.

ARC supplied by author

Wolf Unleashed, Jessica Meats

Wolf Unleashed, Jessica Meats

Wolf Unleashed by [Meats, Jessica]

Genre: General fiction (adult), Sci-fi and Fantasy.

I really wanted to love this book, it sounded so interesting, a unique take on the genre.

It has some excellent characters too, and an interesting plot-line that I can see developing further within future books.

And yet….it was interesting, it was well written, paced to keep the reader engaged and yet somehow I kept putting it to one side.

Possibly it was the sheer unpleasantness of the idea of keep werewolves as pets/slaves, and of breeding them for that purpose, taking away the children and selling them. Its all too reminiscent for me of the human trade in slaves where non whites were considered sub-humans and we used and abused them.

Although it made for a great main plot it did make me feel incredibly uncomfortable and guilty as a human for the past atrocities white people forced onto non-whites.

If you can set that aside and enjoy the story for what it is, fiction and well written, then this is a series you’ll enjoy. I might try later books as they come out, I know once the imbalance starts to get addressed I’ll be happier reading about these people.

Its an excellent look at human nature, how ready we are to believe what “the authorities” tell us, which of course is what benefits a few powerful people the most, but gets dressed as if its helping everyone. Cynic? Me? There’s a quote from Edmund Burke that suits this book really well, it goes something like this… “all that is needed for evil to flourish is for good men to do nothing”. Here we’ve a handful of good people, starting with Crystal, doing something which hopefully will grow, but it isn’t going to be easy.

Even then if Crystal’s brother hadn’t been bitten she would still have gone along with the official line that this treatment of werewolves is essential for them and us.
It mirrors what happens so often, as humans we mostly ignore or turn a blind eye to distasteful practices and injustices until we’re forced to confront them personally.

Stars: Three, a really well written story, but which made me feel so guilty for similar human past practices it affected my enjoyment of the story

ARC supplied by Netgalley and Publishers.

 

Love at First Hate J.L. Merrow

Love at First Hate  J.L. Merrow

Love at First Hate (Porthkennack Book 11) by [Merrow, JL]

Genre:  Romance, LGBTQIA

Porthkennack and Garret Leigh – real treat to read.

Like the Bluewater Bay series, also from Riptide, Porthkennack covers books written by different authors about the same place.

For me it means even when books are approaching double figures they still retain that freshness first books in a series have, as each author puts their own ideas and spin to the stories.

I didn’t connect this book with Wake-Up Call at first, Dev and his story rang a bell when it was mentioned, and I had to flick back and look it up. Its really interesting to see it from the other side, and I understood so much more about bran’s awful reaction to Dev in that book.

I felt for Bran here, he’d had a tough upbringing, just duty, duty, duty really, and he comes over as quite aggressive almost, very taciturn, and not an easy man to get along with. Yet when we learn more of him I felt I understood him, and that the front he presented too often was just that, almost as if that he makes himself dislikeable then he’s controlling others reactions, not them disliking him when he’s trying to be nice, but in an almost unconscious way. Well, that’s how I see him, garbled though that explantation is…

The plots were as always very intriguing and multi layered. The romance though, well, here it fell short for me. Bran and Sam don’t even meet til a good way into the book, and its as the title says, hate at first sight, and second and third. Slowly though that changes, but I found the slip from dislike to lets get together didn’t really give me the feelings they were invested in more, they could have just been a one night hook up, and then suddenly there’s indications for a future…possibly…maybe…when the stars align, then a big blow-up and its all off.

They do get past that and have a possibly HFN but I didn’t ever get that sense of passion, of emotions other than lust, and I needed that for the five.

Stars: four, fabulous plot(s) but somewhat understated on the romance side

ARC supplied by Netgalley and Publishers

In Too deep, Dani Collins

In Too deep,  Dani Collins

In Too Deep (Blue Spruce Lodge Book 3) by [Collins, Dani ]

Genre: Romance

I haven’t read book one ( but will sometime), really enjoyed book two and we got a hint about Trigg and Wren there. I was hoping they were next, and it proved to be a fun read, with some very real characters and situations.

I really felt for Wren, she’s been a parent to Sky since she was little more than a child herself, and her parents were not any help. They dealt badly with the death of Wren’s brother when he was a child, and her father became an awful, violent man. Wren now hates confrontation, has mental scars from the beatings she took. Yet all that, plus the loss of her loved sister Mandy, Sky’s mum, and she’s still a lovely person, and has given so much up for Sky.

Sky’s an obnoxious pre-teen, but TBH many of them are. It’s like a rite of passage for some, my own daughter made a calendar when she was 12 listing the days til she was 16 and could move out, and religiously crossed off each day. Of course poor Wren gets the “if my mother was alive…” jibes, and harassment about Sky’s father, with Sky desperate to meet him. When they up sticks and do just that though its not all fairytales.

Trigg is a household name in snowboarding circles, and a rich playboy to boot. Having a 12 year old daughter has come as a shock, he was just 17 and Mandy had said she was having an abortion. Now he meets Sky and she’s not some sweet, adoring kid, but a bundle of confusion, irritation and resentment.

All that was so real, and the way the other characters reacted to Sky’s moods and rudeness felt very genuine. Its easy to say “she’s a teen, ignore it, she’s been through a lot”, but harder to actually do just that when she seems to be going out of her way to be difficult. Of course poor Wren feels guilty for that too. She moved there as Sky wanted to get to know her father, and now she’s wondering if it was the right course to take.
There’s a slow turnaround, some really funny moments, some issues that were very emotional, and of course the characters’ stories from earlier books continue. I loved the way there’s not a moment when I can pinpoint Sky’s mood change, but that its a natural progression, that Trigg slowly became a caring parent, loved Sky and was key to understanding her.

Trigg wasn’t the greatest to start, knows nothing of bringing up kids and this rude ball of fury comes as a shock. He’s inclined to blame Wren for everything, and she already does enough of that herself. Slowly things change, he begins to feel like a dad, and of course the attraction that’s always been there between him and Wren simmers.

As well as the romance there’s the story of the Lodge, the characters that live and work there, and the issues they’ve been having with accidents that are beginning to seem like deliberate sabotage. Someone doesn’t want the lodge to succeed but who? And what can they do about it? It comes to an explosive climax, with some sharp edged actions, and made this story have that edge over just a simple romance. I really enjoyed it.

Stars: Five, a great fun read, terrific real characters, and the story of the Lodge and the sabotage added such a lot.

ARC supplied by Netgalley and Publishers

 

Faithless,  Elle Charles

Faithless,  Elle Charles

Faithless (Fractured Book 4) by [Charles, Elle]

Genre: Romance

I hadn’t read the first three books, saw this was a stand alone and thought I could read it without the others. That was a mistake, there are so many references to events from first three books, and so many different characters that I was lost for a good part of the beginning. I did work out whop connected where and how but it took much of the joy out of the story for me and I think I’d have got along much better with this if I’d read those earlier books. My fault for misunderstanding the description.

Its a packed book, and a good length. Usually I’m all for that but maybe because I didn’t know all the backstories at times it was a slog for me to get through and thinking of all those pages to come was so daunting that I nearly DNF it.

I did stick with it though, and its an interesting story, packed with the kind of drama I’d usually adore but which felt a bit OTT here, probably again because I just didn’t know the whole story.
I did like the characters, they felt very realistic even if I did want to slap them a time or too…..

Stars: Three, an interesting read and I think IF I’d read those earlier books I’d have got far more from it.

ARC supplied by Netgalley and Publishers

 

#Moonstruck, A #Lovestruck Novel Book 2, Sariah Wilson

#Moonstruck, A #Lovestruck Novel Book 2, Sariah Wilson

#Moonstruck (A #Lovestruck Novel) by [Wilson, Sariah]

Genre: General Fiction (adult), romance

I enjoyed book one and was pleased to see a fleeting appearance of Chase and Zoe here 😉 I love when that happens.

So, Maisy has a dilemma, she’s a Rule, No Musicians – Ever….and yet now she and her brothers are on tour with Ryan de Luna she’s struggling.
It was pretty easy at first, he has a reputation as a man-whore and jerk, she knows his type and it wasn’t hard to brush off his advances. That seemed to shock him, usually he only has to glance and the Pleeches ( Maisy’s term for the type of groupies that follow him) are desperate to shed their (minimal) clothes, do whatever he wants so he’s a bit intrigued by Maisy and her indifference.

To start with I thought he was a jerk too. In a way when everyone around is pandering to you, telling you what they think you want to hear, not whet you need to hear it must be difficult to be “normal”. Ryan’s trying to change though, tired of that rep, tired of doing the same music just because it sells, but his label love it because it brings in the money.
He loves the way Maisy treats him just the same as anyone else, no special treatment, not afraid to call him out, tell him he’s wrong.
As she gets to know him she can see beyond the face he presents and when he asks for her help she agrees. By then she’s pretty much been sucked in by his charm and just wants to help him achieve what he wants with his music.

I liked Maisie – and her brothers. They’ve had a tough life, work hard with their band to create and play the music they love, and all have other jobs to support the family, keep their home, and pay their mothers health costs. This gig is the chance of a lifetime for them, pays really well and hopefully could lead to financial security, so they’re a little worried about what happens if Maisy and Ryan split. Will they lose the gig, can they afford that risk? They can see that both have feelings for each other so the “fake” girlfriend thing isn’t going to stay that way for long.

Its got some great drama in, and like book one has a nice twist at the end. I thought I’d guessed that – I was wrong, it wasn’t who I thought but someone I’d never imagined. Like I said before I love to be surprised.
I did think Maisy over-reacted a bit but the story needed that to create the drama, and given the type of person she was and her fear of Ryan being like her father, it wasn’t that much of a stretch to believe she would have done that.

Stars:Four, another fun and real feeling read.

ARC supplied by Netgalley and Publishers

Tap – A Love Story, Tracy Ewens

Tap – A Love Story,  Tracy Ewens

Tap: A Love Story by [Ewens, Tracy]

Genre: Romance

Well, I didn’t realise this was a series of connected reads, and though it is a stand alone romance, I think I’d have got more from it if I’d read the others, knew the back story. The Melissa thing especially, I don’t know if that’s covered in earlier books, but I was so puzzled, what was it that Sistine ( and all I can think of is Sistine Chapel each time I read her name…) was doing for Melissa for all that dosh, and why did they fall out years ago.
I loved the characters but I didn’t feel the connections between them, did really understand the little nuances and side jokes that I suspect I would have if I’d read the other books.
Cade is a gem, but apart from idealising what his family and friends have I wasn’t really sure why he was all out for his own family. Do guys suddenly get that instinct for family? It just seemed such a sea change in behaviours and thoughts. Why hadn’t he noticed Sistine before, can he really be so attracted now he’s noticed her when she’s been there all the time. Its easier on her part, he’s a hot guy and she’s a long held secret attraction for him.
I didn’t really connect with this story, found myself skimming parts trying to work out what was behind events and actions, overall it was just an OK read for me. As always though others love it, we all enjoy different things in our reading.

Stars:Three, a story I never really connected well with.

ARC supplied by Netgalley and Publishers

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